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Shaving the Graveyard

ISSUE:  Spring 1992

The graveyard being what he called his face;
even as a young man
he called his face the graveyard—he talked
like that, funny, odd
things that scared me sometimes

in our early years—I thought maybe he was a little touched
(his Uncle Bob was certifiable)
but it was just his way of talking—u-feeisms,
he told me once, he liked to use u-feeisms,
which was no language

I ever heard of. He never touched a drop though
nor ever lifted a hand against me
or the kids, and when it came to loving,
well, he was sweet, but talking strange then
too: Bug Sauce, he’d call me, or Lavender Limbs,

or sometimes, Birdbath—never Honey
or Sugar like other husbands, when they talked, talked.
He was funny like that. Anyway,
after breakfast (he always shaved after breakfast,
said his face was “looser” then)

he’d stroke his chin and say:
Time to shave the graveyard,
and he would and then he’d go to work,
the handle of his lunch pail hooked through
with a belt and slung

over his shoulder. Some days I’d watch him
until he reached the corner
of Maple and Cottage
where he turned and walked the two blocks
to the mill.


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